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AMONG the arguments employed in the course of the following observations, there are some which are urged upon the attention of such persons, exclusively, as already possess an intimate knowledge of the character and circumstances of the Society of Friends.
The present volume is, in fact, intended not so much for the information of the publick in general, as for the use of the junior members of that Society. To these the essays contained in it may be considered to be addressed. I am persuaded that there are not a few of our young men and women, who, although brought up in the Society, are nevertheless not sufficiently informed respecting the religious principles by which it is distinguished; and who, perhaps, have seldom reflected, with accuracy, on the Christian and scriptural grounds of our several peculiarities.
It has fallen to my lot to be brought into much familiar acquaintance with serious Christians of several denominations ; and, although I enjoyed a birthright in the Society, my situation, after I had arrived at years of discretion, was of that nature which rendered it, in rather an unusual degree, incumbent upon me to make my own choice of a particular religious course. Under these circumstances, I was led, partly by research, but chiefly, I trust, by a better guidance, to a settled preference, on my own account, of the religious profession of Friends. Nor ought I to hesitate in expressing a heartfelt gratitude to the “ Shepherd of Israel,” who has bestowed upon me a resting-place in this department of his fold: for although, in some degree, aware how much there is of vital Christianity in other Societies, I may acknowledge that I have found the situation thus provided for myself to be one accompanied with true safety, and with a variety of substantial advantages.
Such having been my experience, and having, in reference to this selection of a particular course, been, at various times, engaged in much reflection and in some scriptural investigation, I am inclined to submit to the candid attention of my young friends the grounds on which I was originally led more closely to attach myself to Friends, and on which I have since been confirmed in the persuasion that I was right in doing so.
Although, however, these essays are addressed principally to the junior members of our own body, I confess that I have also had in view a number of individuals who do not actually belong to us, but who have some intimate connexion with us, and appear to be brought, in various degrees, under the same peculiar religious administration.
Should the younger members of our Society receive, from this humble endeavour to serve them, any instruction, or any encouragement to persevere in that restricted path which Providence has cast up for them,
and should the individuals last alluded to be confirmed, by any of the arguments here adduced, in the choice which they appear to be making of the same restricted path-my object in publishing the present statement of thought and sentiment will be sufficiently answered, and I shall rest satisfied in the comforting persuasion, that my labour (which I trust has been a labour of love) has not been in vain in the Lord. Here it
proper for me to remark, that, although the various subjects considered in the present work are discussed in distinct dissertations, and although it may be hoped that these dissertations, when separately read, will be found suficiently intelligible, yet it has been my endeavour to maintain, through the whole course of the work, one continued train of reflection and argument; in such a manner as that the several parts of the series might be closely connected with one another, and that all might tend in harmony to the same general conclusion. Such having been